Concentration Camp Site in Serbia Capital of Belgrade Eyed for Balkans Megamall

Warehouse District Was Stop on Death Road for Jews

Place of Grief: A woman mourns at the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Belgrade.
historical archive of belgrade
Place of Grief: A woman mourns at the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Belgrade.

By Reuters

Published August 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Lucija Rajner last saw her father, Vladislav, on Nov. 14, 1941, through a barbed-wire fence at a concentration camp in Belgrade.

That autumn, Rajner and her mother passed food, letters and bedding to him, until a guard told them he wouldn’t need such supplies anymore. Rajner never learned his fate, but assumes he died the same way as 6,000 other Jews and 1,500 Roma who passed through the camp - gunned down or gassed en masse.

The cluster of warehouses that formed the camp known as Topovske Supe still stands; rubbish litters the floors and graffiti scars the walls.

A small plaque is all that marks the location’s dark history. It was screwed to a crumbling brick wall in 2006, when most of the land had already been sold for 27 million euros ($35 million) to a retail tycoon who plans to spend 160 million euros to turn it into the biggest shopping mall in the Balkans.

Rajner and a small group of historians and activists say the destruction of Topovske Supe is emblematic of how far Serbia still has to go in recognising the Holocaust on its soil.

“I don’t know why the state shows this kind of disrespect to things which should not be forgotten,” said 79-year-old Rajner.

In a region dotted with memorials to Partisan battle victories, the 70,000 Jews who died in Yugoslavia during World War Two were subsumed into the narrative of Yugoslav victims of fascism, part of the doctrine of ‘Brotherhood and Unity’ propagated by Josip Broz Tito to diminish national and ethnic differences within the federation he ruled from 1945 to 1980.

After Estonia, Serbia was the second Nazi-occupied territory in Europe to be formally declared ‘free of Jews’ in August 1942, when 90 percent of the country’s 16,000 Jews had perished.

With Tito’s death, unity gave way to the virulent nationalism that would eventually tear Yugoslavia apart, and Serbia began stressing the suffering of Serbs at the hands of Nazi puppet rulers in Croatia.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.